With the central leadership showing its dissent over the Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka, once again the tussle between Yediyurappa and Amit Shah has surfaced in the political arena raising the speculations that can he separate his path from the saffron party?
While Yediyurappa had selected a hotelier Prakash Shetty, whose term was expiring, Amit Shah favoured former PM HD Devegowda, who was also backed by Congress and this lead to increased rivalry between the state and the central power houses as it was Yediyurappa who, just over a year ago, brought down a government led by Deve Gowda’s son Kumaraswamy, in an alliance with the Congress.
This is not the first instance where one can notice lack of coordination between the two BJP leaders, but since Yediyurappa returned as CM of Karnataka, the tussle is much being talked about in the political circles of Karnataka. Yediyurappa ensured the party won 25 of 28 seats in the general election; and in by-elections in December, his candidates won 12 out of 15 seats.
Since the time Yediyurappa returned to his fourth term, he has been facing internal rivalry by BL Santosh, an RSS backed candidate, who Yediyurappa has openly criticised for internal rebellion, after BJP lost legislative assembly elections in 2018.
Santosh, who has made international headlines over the anti-muslim tweet (which was later deleted), clashed with the CM over Lok Sabha candidate, when CM wanted Tejaswini, wife of late Anant Kumar as a candidate from Banglore South, while BL Santosh favoured RSS backed youth Tejaswi Surya (whose tweet has led to fresh controversy from UAE) which he won with Shah’s backing and since the time BJP got majority in Lok Sabha, talk has grown that he will soon replace Yediyurappa as Chief Minister of Karnataka.
People close to the CM have been critical over the issue, said that both Shah and Modi do not believe in creating a state level leadership, Yediyurappa built the BJP in Karnataka single-handedly when he was the lone man holding the saffron flag. He will never leave any battle for his honour. If Shah and Santosh accept a walkover, they will be surprised.
And this is not going to be the first instance where the senior Karnataka leader will be distancing from BJP. He has briefly quit BJP in 2011, when the saffron party pressurised him to resign as Chief Minister over the corruption case, later returned to the party when BJP needed him the most.
Both Modi and Shah are close to Santosh and would like a leader owing allegiance to them as the Chief Minister of the only southern state where the party is in charge.
However, sidelining a Lingayat leader will not be an easy bet for BJP and would never want to repeat the history of what Late Rajeev Gandhi did by removing Lingayat Chief Minister Veerendra Patil in 1990 which resulted in shifting of Lingayat vote bank from Congress which finally consildated to Yediyurappa in early 2000s. Lingayats hold about 14% votes in the state and play a key role in deciding the fate of any election.